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How to prevent and treat mask acne aka 'maskne'

Virginians prepare for potential mandate on wearing masks in public
Posted at 8:51 AM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 11:26:35-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It keeps the public safe from being exposed to COVID-19, but wearing masks has an irritating side effect that's earned a nickname – 'maskne.'

"Wearing masks has created a host of new skin problems in our community," said Dr. John Roth with Kentucky Dermatology and Cosmetic Specialists.

Dr. Roth says wearing a mask for long periods can create a warm, moist environment on the skin around your nose and mouth. That's when acne and other skin problems can form. Several factors only contribute, like a hot, humid climate and stress.

"The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and wearing a mask can aggravate many skin diseases, including acne, rosacea, eczema," said Dr. Roth.

Another contributing factor is wearing heavy makeup, which can clog the skin. Dr. Roth says if you have to wear makeup, wear a light coverage around your nose and mouth.

Makeup transfer is also one of many ways masks get dirty, so make sure you're washing reusable cloth masks frequently and adequately. If you're cleaning it wrong, that could also cause skin problems.

"Rinse any detergent residue or fabric softener residue out of the mask before it dries, because leaving it on the mask and then wearing it on the next day can accelerate or cause excessive acne problems also," said Dr. Roth. "Just rinse it well and let it dry after you wash it."

To treat mask acne, Dr. Roth says to wash your face gently twice a day with a mild cleanser and follow up with a light moisturizer. If over the counter products don't seem to clear your skin, consider reaching out to a dermatologist to see if you need a prescription treatment.

Dr. Roth also says to let your skin breathe as much as possible. This includes limiting or eliminating makeup on days off and lowering or removing your mask when you're outside and a safe distance from others.